‘Detour’ thrills, ‘Starbuck’ emotes and ‘Trance’ hypnotizes on DVD

Among the movies that became available Tuesday, July 23 on Blu-ray and DVD at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley are a single-setting thriller that takes place entirely within the confines of a car, a dramedy about a man with many children and a new thriller from filmmaker Danny Boyle.

Detour

Neil Hopkins plays a man who, trapped inside his car by a mudslide with no hope of rescue, must defy the odds – battling Mother Nature for his survival. (NR – 87 minutes)

Single-setting thrillers (think elevators ala “Devil” and ski chairlifts ala “Frozen”) are a tough nut to crack. They are even tougher when a single actor is responsible for carrying the entire movie on his shoulders alone (think Ryan Reynolds in “Buried” and James Franco in “127 Hours”). However, writer/director William Dickerson and star Neil Hopkins have done exactly that with “Detour” – and on an indie filmmaker’s production budget no less. The film features all of the claustrophobia, desperation and pure panic that you could possibly want in a motion picture, taking you on an emotional and psychological roller-coaster ride without ever leaving the confines of a car. (Thumbs Up!)

Ginger & Rosa

Elle Fanning and Alice Englert play inseparable friends who, while growing up in 1960s London, finds their relationship redefined as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms. (PG-13 – 89 minutes)

Nearly every actor who appears in writer/director Sally Potter’s new drama “Ginger & Rosa” deserves a standing ovation. However, the only standing that anyone is likely to do for the film itself is the kind that is required when walking out. Although it is always nice when a movie transports viewers to another time and place, this particular motion picture’s purpose in doing so gets somewhat lost along the way. However, if watching characters wander around aimlessly while spouting philosophies that were placed between their lips lacking any finesse from the filmmaker whatsoever sounds like fun to you, then – by all means – have at it. (Thumbs Down!)

Starbuck

Patrick Huard plays a perpetual screw up who, having been a habitual sperm donor in his youth, discovers that he is the biological father of 533 children – 142 of whom are trying to force the fertility clinic to reveal the true identity of the prolific donor code-named Starbuck. (R – 109 minutes)

Maybe it is just the “My Name is Earl” withdrawals talking, but “Starbuck” would have been a much better television sitcom than a feature-length film. The small screen format would not only make better use of the serial nature of early scenes in writer/director Ken Scott’s new comedy but would also be more forgiving of some of its absurd aspects. After all, it all seems somewhat silly – not to mention outlandish. Still, in spite of that and a premise that comes across as contrived, one cannot help but surrender to the story’s good-intentioned sweetness and sentimentality. (Thumbs Up!)

Trance

James McAvoy plays a fine art auctioneer who, having teamed up with criminal gang to steal a painting worth millions of dollars, suffers a blow to the head and awakens with no memory of where he has hid it prompting the gang’s leader (Vincent Cassel) to hire a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson). (R – 101 minutes)

So long as you surrender with complete abandon to “Trance,” it will be a surreal cinematic experience unlike any other you have ever had or probably ever will. However, if you hesitate or resist in even the slightest way, the dream will quickly become a nightmare. One’s enjoyment of writer/director Danny Boyle’s new thriller is dependant on the level of faith they have that the psychotic safari will, before all is said and done, make some sort of sense. Fortunately, it does – and in a spectacularly surprising way no less. This movie is intriguing, intense, innovative and especially insane. (Thumbs Up!)

Welcome to the Punch

Mark Strong plays an ex-criminal who is forced to return to London when his son is involved in a heist gone wrong. This gives his nemesis – a detective (James McAvoy) – one last chance to catch the man he’s always been after. (NR – 99 minutes)

“Welcome to the Punch” is a classic case of style over substance. On the one hand, writer/director Eran Creevy’s new crime thriller certainly looks slick – especially during its action sequences (at least when you can see them as it is a fairly low-lit flick). On the other hand, it has a cookie-cutter-like conventionality that seems to be relying on cliches rather than breaking free from them. It is an extremely empty experience whose sole takeaway is the banausic blast of bullets that results from one generic gunfight after another. Even the usually talented cast appears to be bored. (Thumbs Down!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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